September 26, 2022

Cordillerans WILL commemorate the 36th anniversary of the sipat that marked the signing of peace agreement between the government and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) at Mount Data Hotel, Bauko, Mountain Province on Sept. 13, 1986.
The sipat paved the way for the signing of Executive Order 220 on July 15, 1987 by then President Corazon Aquino, which marks the genuine Cordillera Day.
The late mayor Gabino Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mountain Province and former CPLA leader has provided us with a reliable narrative on what transpired during the sipat where he disclosed that this came after Fr. Conrado Balweg formed the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) after defecting from the New People’s Army in 1984 because the latter’s agenda was not consistent with the CPLA’s objective to promote unity and regional autonomy.
These objectives should be the highlight of annual commemoration of the sipat.
Let it not be tainted again by groups riding on the legitimate struggles of Cordillera leaders to promote peace in the region when in fact, they are supporting those that the CPLA despised for insisting on pursuing an armed revolution.
The commemoration of the sipat is a reminder for Cordillerans to preserve the peace brought by the historic event at Mount Data in 1986 that ended hostilities between the government troops and armed group.
This year’s celebration should be a venue for Cordillerans to renew their commitment in taking active part in maintaining peace and sustaining the momentum towards realizing genuine regional autonomy. — CRISTINA CATBAGAN, chair, Nagkakaisang Samahan Para sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran

Schools maintenance is primarily a DepEd task

We laud the Department of Education Baguio Schools Division Office in sharing the appeal of parents to reform the National Schools Maintenance Week or Brigada Eskwela as published in the mainstream and social media.
From the many concerns arising in the implementation of this program, we strongly assert that schools maintenance is the primary task of DepEd, as we put forward the following reforms our organization has been raising for a better implementation of the Brigada Es-kwela.
Brigada Eskwela must be funded by DepEd from supposedly highest national budgetary priority for the department. It should not exploit the bayanihan or the spirit of volunteerism and collective effort to relinquish this task to stakeholders on the ground.
This way, the unresolved perennial problems of lack of classrooms, chairs, facilities, school supplies that make Brigada Eskwela an enormous task, should be resolved foremost. For this school year, additional pandemic-related needs and destruction of facilities and supplies from the recent earthquake can be addressed.
This way too, principals and teachers will not be forced to sap their own resources and energies in big out-of-pocket expenses.
Likewise, many poor parents don’t need to scrounge to be able to contribute financially and don’t need to lend precious time from work and livelihood that should catch up with earning a living especially after the two-year critical pandemic period.
DepEd should not make Brigada Eskwela a contest. It should not degradingly push principals and teachers to do solicitations, as it further did in making amount of solicitations a criterion this schoolyear, especially amidst a continuously aggravating economic crisis.
With these reforms, Brigada Eskwela will not distract stakeholders on the ground from their main task of making education more res-ponsive to present needs and more relevant to societal development. — RUEL D. CARICATIVO, Alliance of Concerned Teachers National Council member for the Cordillera

BENECO members-consumers at losing end due to leadership impasse

the Benguet Electric COOPERATIVE is under a two headed hydra and is thus paradoxically headless, to the loss of members and consumers.
The leadership problem is pending resolution of the petition, which was filed by Engr. Melchor Licoben questioning the appointment of Atty. Ana Maria Rafael by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) before the Court of Appeals.
In the interregnum, penalties and interests pile up, which by estimate counts to P500 million due to the non-payment of loans and obligations to suppliers, among other concerns.
All these are due to the fact that banks have frozen Beneco accounts due to the non-resolution of the leadership issue.
To pay Beneco’s obligations, the city council proposed to the two groups to sit together and find a way to settle them.
Transparency on the part of the two groups are necessary to break the impasse and stop the financial bleeding of Beneco. The two groups should submit themselves to an independent technical-financial audit to be conducted by a committee composed of the Cooperative Development Authority, Energy Regulatory Commission, and NEA.
As an aside, the Beneco board of directors who have millions of unliquidated cash advances pursuant to NEA audit report should be required to pay to help defray the payment of the obligations of Beneco.
As to the issue as to who is the rightful general manager, the question should be, which is the rightful body to appoint a general manager in case there is a vacancy.
I would say it is the NEA-BOA. The rationale is to preserve the independence of the general manager from the board.
To say that it is the BOD, which is the appointing authority is a prescription for corruption, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
The principle of checks and balances should be upheld as this could have prevented the BOD from dipping their fingers in the treasury of Beneco resulting in unliquidated cash advances.
With the above backdrop, it is not difficult to understand that the members and consu-mers will be at the losing end.
Whoever will be declared the general ma-nager will be hard put in managing the finan-ces of Beneco. It would be inevitable that the electricity rates will be increased to be able to pay for the numerous loans of Beneco. Quo vadis Beneco? — CLR. FRED BAGBAGEN, Baguio City